Chapter 47: 1-3
Laws Pertaining to Wine
1. [Among the Torah's 365 prohibitions against wine used in the service of
idols - yayin nesach. The Sages extended the scope of that prohibition in
order to discourage social gatherings, which they regarded as likely to
lead to intermarriage. The details of this prohibition are unique to wine,
and does not include beer, spirits or food -- in accordance with the Sages'
practice to make enactments as similar as possible to the Torah source from
which they derive.
[Wine was consecrated to idols through contact, and thus the Sages forbade
any wine which a non-Jew touched. This wine is referred to as "stam
yeinom," meaning that although it was not used for idolatry, it is
nonetheless "their (non-Jewish) wine."]
According to some opinions, in the present age we are forbidden only from
drinking stam yeinom, but we are allowed to derive benefit from it.
Therefore, a Jew may take wine from a non-Jew as payment for a debt.
Similarly, leniency is allowed in other instances where a loss is involved
- e.g. one violated the prohibition [described momentarily] and bought such
wine. However, at the outset, it is forbidden to purchase such wine in
order to profit from its sale. There are some who allow leniency also in
this regard. However, it is preferable to follow the more stringent view.
2. [Bathing in wine is reputed to have medicinal value.] A sick person,
even one whose life is not danger, may bathe in non-kosher wine.
3. Kosher wine which has been cooked - i.e., that has been boiled to the
extent that some has evaporated - [is no longer subject to the prohibitions
of stam yeinom]. If it is touched by a non-Jew after cooking, it is
permitted even to be drunk.
In contrast, putting wormwood into wine [to detract from its taste, does
not change its Halachic status], as long as it is still called "wine" and
has not been boiled, it becomes forbidden when touched by a non-Jew.